NEWS

Experts advocate face masks, less socializing to keep coronavirus at bay

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The widespread use of face masks, avoiding large groups and social distancing are the best ways to keep infection rates low in Greece, three Athens Medical School health experts told Kathimerini, as Greek authorities fear that compliance with safety rules is waning.

Face masks should be “made mandatory even on the beach,” said epidemiology professor Athena Linos. “If the person next to you is less than two meters away you must wear it because, at this distance, we breathe in the air exhaled by the other.”

Limiting social contacts to 10-15 people will also help prevent the spread of the virus, she said.

At the same time, she believes a decision to let thousands of employees return to their offices was risky. “Since teleworking has worked and a vaccine has not yet been found, there was no reason [to return to the office].

“Employees returned to their workplaces without a mask and with the air conditioners open, which in Greece use mostly recycled air.”

Dr Nikolaos Sipsas, an infectious diseases expert, said that when a person is standing less than two meters from another, “you must wear [the mask] without a second thought," adding that face masks should be obligatory for employees working in shopping malls or restaurants and cafes.

Masks made of fabric offer 75% protection, while the rate for surgical masks is even higher, added Dr Athanasios Tsakris, a clinical microbiologist at the Athens Medical School. 

“The most common mode of transmission seems to be through talking, when we talk to each other loudly and in close proximity,” he said.